Ribollita - Tuscan Peasant Soup

Ribollita – Tuscan Peasant Soup

    • Prep Time
    • Minutes
    • Cook Time
    • Minutes
    • Yield
    • about 9lt
    • Difficulty Level

AV_POST_00026_RECIPE_RIBOLLITA-ARTUSI-INGREDIENTS

Total Cost: UK/£ 12,76*

Cost/portion (18 to 20 portions): UK/£ 0,67*

“This soup, which for his humble nature calls itself by the epithet of peasant, will be well-appreciated by all, even the wealthy ones – I am convinced – if cooked with proper care.”

This is how Pellegrino Artusi – in his “Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well” – introduces Ribollita. I hope my poor attempt at translating it from a quite ancient styled italian hasn’t spoiled it. But that’s what it is. Humble food  with such a  persuasive taste to be considered a delicacy by anybody.

There are no exact quantities in Artusi’s recipe, the list of ingredients is missing details here and there, and the cooking method sounds like if it has been written for someone already “in the know”. So, my version of the recipe will be more detailed – but hopefully not boring – and I will respect the sequence as described in the book, even though I’d suggest making the frying base with the parsley stalks, not the leaves, and to sprinkle these on top when serving it.

Ingredients are quite easy to find anywhere, apart from the swiss chard, which was perfectly available last year in supermarkets – I swear on my rolling pins! – but this year seems to have vanished into thin air. So I had to substitute it with two other veggies, pak-choi and choi-sum, which are similar in texture but slightly stronger in taste.

The soup is meant to be served in layers with traditional Tuscany unsalted bread. Tradition wants the bread to be slightly stale, which is not so easy to get nowadays, when the bread loaves turn either into a stone or a rubbery sponge the day after you bought them… so, unless you bake your own bread, use fresh bread and toast it for a couple of minutes in the oven.

Since it was a humble dish for humble people, any left over would have been boiled again the day after or added to another soup. This is where the name “ribollita” comes from: it means “re-boiled”, “boiled over again”. Believe you me, it tastes even better!

So, if you want my advice, cook the soup the day before, add some rough chunks of bread to it when it has chilled, and boil it over again the day after before serving it. Keep an eye on it and stir it frequently, since the starchy bread will make it easily stick to the bottom of the saucepan.

One more thing: cheese – any cheese – is totally forbidden. I’m not joking: cheese is a no-no. People get easily offended in Tuscany about this. So, finely chop some sweet onion or shallot and sprinkle it on top with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil… and you’ll have a twist!

Note for the users: please click on the label “HOW TO” to watch the slide-show of each cooking step.

* Please note that both total cost and cost per portion are approximate and that can vary according to seasons and to different conditions.

Recipe Rating

  • (1 Rating)

Ingredients

  • Dry Cannellini Beans - 500gr (they will need to be soaked in cold water for 8-12 hour)

  • or canned cannellini beans (1 to 1,2Kg)
  • Cold water - as needed

  • Pork belly rind - about 100gr

  • or a thick slice of Parma Ham, pancetta or guanciale (as used here)
  • Cold water - 3 to 4 lt

  • Black Kale - 500gr

  • Sweet Onion - 300gr

  • Celery stalks - about 80gr

  • "Suited garlic”cloves - 4

  • Parsley (leaves) - 8gr

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil - 80gr

  • Salt - to taste

  • Swiss Chard - 400gr

  • If not available, Pak Choi or Choi Sum, or both as used in this recipe
  • Savoy Cabbage - 400gr

  • White Cabbage - 400gr

  • Cold water - 3 to 4lt

  • Potatoes (White flesh) - 500gr

  • Tomato Passata - 500ml

  • Black Pepper corns - 4gr

  • Salt - 15 to 20gr according to taste

  • Bread - to taste

  • Extra virgin olive oil - to taste

  • Utensils

  • One colander

  • Two large bowls

  • One skimmer

  • One paring knife

  • One sharp chef knife

  • One chopping board

  • One kitchen towel

  • One 4-6lt saucepan

  • Sterilising fluid for food - (use according to instructions)

  • One 9-11lt saucepan

  • One ladle

  • One hand blander or a food mill

  • One pestle and mortar

  • One zester

  • One big wooden spoon or silicone spatula

  • One large serving bowl with lid

Instructions

  • 1.
    Soaking the dried cannellini beans

    • Dry Cannellini Beans - 500gr (they will need to be soaked in cold water for 8-12 hour)
    • or canned cannellini beans (1 to 1,2Kg)

    • Cold water - as needed
    • One colander
    • One large bowl

      Dry cannellini beans need to be soaked into cold water for at least 8 hour. Depending on their quality, you might need even 12 hour or more.
      Put the beans into a colander and wash them under running water.
      Then put them into a large bowl and add 3 or 4lt of cold water.
      Let them soak for at least 8 hour, changing their water 2 or 3 times. Stir them from time to time and take out those who float or the empty skins that come to the surface.
      Wash them again under running water before putting them to boil.
      They will need from 1 to 1 and a half hour to be perfectly cooked.
      If you are using canned beans, then you will add them for last (see step 4).

  • 2.
    Putting the soaked beans to boil and frying the base

    • Soaked Cannellini Beans
    • Cold water - 3 to 4lt
    • Pork belly rind - about 100gr
    • or a thick slice of Parma Ham, pancetta or guanciale (as used here)

    • Black Kale - 500gr
    • Sweet Onion - 300gr
    • Celery stalks - about 80gr
    • Suited garlic cloves - 4
    • Parsley (leaves) - 8gr
    • Extra Virgin Olive Oil - 80gr
    • One large bowl
    • One skimmer
    • One paring knife
    • One sharp chef knife
    • One chopping board
    • One kitchen towel
    • One zester
    • One 4-6lt saucepan
    • One 9-11lt saucepan
    • One big wooden spoon or silicone spatula
    • Sterilising fluid for food - (use according to instructions)

      Put the beans into a 4-6lt saucepan and add 3 or 4lt of cold water. Add the rinds or the cured meats and put on a medium-high heat. They will need to cook for one hour before been added to the main soup. In the process, you will need to skim the surface of the water to clean the water form the scum (step 1 - pic. A).
      Wash the celery stalks and the parsley then dry them with a kitchen towel.
      Tear off the black kale leaves from its stalk and cut off their hard ends.
      Clean the sink, fill it with fresh clean water and add the sterilising fluid according to its instructions.
      Bathe the leaves in the sink’s water. Let them rest for about 15 minutes or as long as the instructions say to be enough. Move them gently from time to time, so the dirt will fall on the bottom.
      Then, move the black kale into a large bowl, drain the dirty water, clean the sink and put the black kale back in. Fill the sink again with fresh water and rinse the leaves one last time (step 2 - pic. B).
      While the black kale is soaking, Put the extra virgin olive oil into the large 9-11lt saucepan and mince the vegetables for the frying base.
      With a paring knife, cut of the onions’ tips, clean their routes, peel off the tunics and cut finely cut the onions into a brunoise. Add it to the extra virgin olive oil.
      Peel off the garlic and grate it with a zester; cut the celery stalks into 2 or 3 pieces, then slice them into sticks (julienne) and then into a fine brunoise. Add them to the onions into the saucepan.
      Mince the parsley and add it to the rest of the chopped vegetables (step 2 - pic. C).

      Note about cutting the onion into brunoise

      With a paring knife, chop off the tip of the onion. Clean the roots, halve it and peel off the tunics. Put each half facing down on a chopping board. With either the paring knife or the tip of the chef knife, make vertical cuts - 2millimeters apart from each other - driving the tip of the knife as close to the roots as possible. Hold the onion together with one hand’s fingers, get the chef knife and with a fulcrum movement complete the mincing with narrow cuts.

      Note about cutting the celery into brunoise

      Wash the stalks under running water and dry them. With a paring knife, clean the ends. With a chef knife, chop the stalk into 2 or three even pieces. Then cut each of them longwise in the middle. Put each half facing down on the chopping board. Cut it longwise into thin slices or sticks (julienne). Collect them and even them by the ends into a small bunch. Hold them together with one hand’s fingers and, with a fulcrum movement of the knife, complete the mincing into small cubes (2 to 3mm side).

  • 3.
    Skimming the beans and chopping and cooking the veggies

    • The saucepan with the brunoise and oil
    • Salt - to taste
    • The cannellini beans into the saucepan
    • The clean black kale
    • Swiss Chard - 400gr
    • If not available, Pak Choi or Choi Sum, or both as used in this recipe

    • Savoy Cabbage - 400gr
    • White Cabbage - 400gr
    • Cold water - 3 to 4lt
    • Potatoes (White flesh) - 500gr
    • Black Pepper corns - 4gr
    • Salt - 15 to 20gr according to taste
    • One skimmer
    • One paring knife
    • One sharp chef knife
    • One chopping board
    • Sterilising fluid for food - (use according to instructions)
    • One pestle and mortar
    • One big wooden spoon or silicone spatula

      Put the large saucepan on a medium heat, stir the minced base evenly and season it with salt to taste. Let it start sweat gently.
      With the skimmer, clean the beans’ water surface (step 3 - pic. A).
      Take the black kale out of the sink and set aside.
      Wash the whole white cabbage and the savoy cabbage under running water: the leaves are so tight to each other that no dirt should be able to penetrate deep into their core.
      With the chef knife, cut each cabbage into halves, carve out the inner hard stalk, then roughly chop them into 3 by 3 pieces.
      Add them to the frying base into the large saucepan and add 3 or 4lt of cold water. Set the heat on a medium-high power and let the mixture come to temperature (step 3 - pic. B).
      Clean the sink, add new water and the sterilising fluid according to instructions.
      With the paring knife, chop off the chard stalks from their roots and drop them into the sink. Repeat the washing as you did for the black kale.
      Roughly chop the black kale and add it to the cabbage. If necessary add some hot water so the temperature will not drop blocking to cooking process (step 3 - pic. C).
      Keep skimming the beans’ water and when the beans have been cooking for about 45 or 50 minutes, chop the chard and put it into the saucepan (step 3 - pic. D).
      If the cabbage and chard dry out too quickly you can start adding some of the beans water.
      Crush the black pepper corns into the mortar and set aside.
      When one hour has passed, peel the potatoes, dice them and add them to the mixture. Add the salt and the pepper according to taste, but don’t be shy, since also the rest of the ingredients will need to get fairy savoury (step 3 - pic. E).

  • 4.
    Adding the tomato passata and the cannellini beans

    • The saucepan with the veggetables
    • Tomato Passata - 500ml
    • The cannellini beans with their rinds and liquor (or the canned beans)
    • One ladle
    • One hand blander or a food mill
    • One big wooden spoon or silicone spatula

      Add the tomato passata and stir (step 4 - pic. A).
      With a ladle, add half of the cannellini beans and the boiled rinds or cured meats to the main saucepan (step 4 - pic. B).
      Process the rest of the beans with a hand blander, or a food mill, directly into their liquor. Do just the same if you are using canned beans. Add the mixture into the large saucepan, stir evenly (step 4 - pic. C -D).
      Set the power on a low heat and let the soup cook for one more hour.
      Check the seasoning.

  • 5.
    Serving the Ribollita soup

    • Bread - to taste
    • Extra virgin olive oil - to taste
    • One large serving bowl with lid

      Slice the bread (about one large slice for each diner - half a cm thick). Make alternate layers of bread and soup and drizzle some extra virgin olive oil on each of them. Cover the bowl with its lid and let it rest for 20 minutes before serving: Artusi says the soup is good eaten warm, but cold is better.

Instructions

  • 1.
    Soaking the dried cannellini beans

    • Dry Cannellini Beans - 500gr (they will need to be soaked in cold water for 8-12 hour)
    • or canned cannellini beans (1 to 1,2Kg)

    • Cold water - as needed
    • One colander
    • One large bowl

      Dry cannellini beans need to be soaked into cold water for at least 8 hour. Depending on their quality, you might need even 12 hour or more.
      Put the beans into a colander and wash them under running water.
      Then put them into a large bowl and add 3 or 4lt of cold water.
      Let them soak for at least 8 hour, changing their water 2 or 3 times. Stir them from time to time and take out those who float or the empty skins that come to the surface.
      Wash them again under running water before putting them to boil.
      They will need from 1 to 1 and a half hour to be perfectly cooked.
      If you are using canned beans, then you will add them for last (see step 4).

  • 2.
    Putting the soaked beans to boil and frying the base

    • Soaked Cannellini Beans
    • Cold water - 3 to 4lt
    • Pork belly rind - about 100gr
    • or a thick slice of Parma Ham, pancetta or guanciale (as used here)

    • Black Kale - 500gr
    • Sweet Onion - 300gr
    • Celery stalks - about 80gr
    • Suited garlic cloves - 4
    • Parsley (leaves) - 8gr
    • Extra Virgin Olive Oil - 80gr
    • One large bowl
    • One skimmer
    • One paring knife
    • One sharp chef knife
    • One chopping board
    • One kitchen towel
    • One zester
    • One 4-6lt saucepan
    • One 9-11lt saucepan
    • One big wooden spoon or silicone spatula
    • Sterilising fluid for food - (use according to instructions)

      Put the beans into a 4-6lt saucepan and add 3 or 4lt of cold water. Add the rinds or the cured meats and put on a medium-high heat. They will need to cook for one hour before been added to the main soup. In the process, you will need to skim the surface of the water to clean the water form the scum (step 1 - pic. A).
      Wash the celery stalks and the parsley then dry them with a kitchen towel.
      Tear off the black kale leaves from its stalk and cut off their hard ends.
      Clean the sink, fill it with fresh clean water and add the sterilising fluid according to its instructions.
      Bathe the leaves in the sink’s water. Let them rest for about 15 minutes or as long as the instructions say to be enough. Move them gently from time to time, so the dirt will fall on the bottom.
      Then, move the black kale into a large bowl, drain the dirty water, clean the sink and put the black kale back in. Fill the sink again with fresh water and rinse the leaves one last time (step 2 - pic. B).
      While the black kale is soaking, Put the extra virgin olive oil into the large 9-11lt saucepan and mince the vegetables for the frying base.
      With a paring knife, cut of the onions’ tips, clean their routes, peel off the tunics and cut finely cut the onions into a brunoise. Add it to the extra virgin olive oil.
      Peel off the garlic and grate it with a zester; cut the celery stalks into 2 or 3 pieces, then slice them into sticks (julienne) and then into a fine brunoise. Add them to the onions into the saucepan.
      Mince the parsley and add it to the rest of the chopped vegetables (step 2 - pic. C).

      Note about cutting the onion into brunoise

      With a paring knife, chop off the tip of the onion. Clean the roots, halve it and peel off the tunics. Put each half facing down on a chopping board. With either the paring knife or the tip of the chef knife, make vertical cuts - 2millimeters apart from each other - driving the tip of the knife as close to the roots as possible. Hold the onion together with one hand’s fingers, get the chef knife and with a fulcrum movement complete the mincing with narrow cuts.

      Note about cutting the celery into brunoise

      Wash the stalks under running water and dry them. With a paring knife, clean the ends. With a chef knife, chop the stalk into 2 or three even pieces. Then cut each of them longwise in the middle. Put each half facing down on the chopping board. Cut it longwise into thin slices or sticks (julienne). Collect them and even them by the ends into a small bunch. Hold them together with one hand’s fingers and, with a fulcrum movement of the knife, complete the mincing into small cubes (2 to 3mm side).

  • 3.
    Skimming the beans and chopping and cooking the veggies

    • The saucepan with the brunoise and oil
    • Salt - to taste
    • The cannellini beans into the saucepan
    • The clean black kale
    • Swiss Chard - 400gr
    • If not available, Pak Choi or Choi Sum, or both as used in this recipe

    • Savoy Cabbage - 400gr
    • White Cabbage - 400gr
    • Cold water - 3 to 4lt
    • Potatoes (White flesh) - 500gr
    • Black Pepper corns - 4gr
    • Salt - 15 to 20gr according to taste
    • One skimmer
    • One paring knife
    • One sharp chef knife
    • One chopping board
    • Sterilising fluid for food - (use according to instructions)
    • One pestle and mortar
    • One big wooden spoon or silicone spatula

      Put the large saucepan on a medium heat, stir the minced base evenly and season it with salt to taste. Let it start sweat gently.
      With the skimmer, clean the beans’ water surface (step 3 - pic. A).
      Take the black kale out of the sink and set aside.
      Wash the whole white cabbage and the savoy cabbage under running water: the leaves are so tight to each other that no dirt should be able to penetrate deep into their core.
      With the chef knife, cut each cabbage into halves, carve out the inner hard stalk, then roughly chop them into 3 by 3 pieces.
      Add them to the frying base into the large saucepan and add 3 or 4lt of cold water. Set the heat on a medium-high power and let the mixture come to temperature (step 3 - pic. B).
      Clean the sink, add new water and the sterilising fluid according to instructions.
      With the paring knife, chop off the chard stalks from their roots and drop them into the sink. Repeat the washing as you did for the black kale.
      Roughly chop the black kale and add it to the cabbage. If necessary add some hot water so the temperature will not drop blocking to cooking process (step 3 - pic. C).
      Keep skimming the beans’ water and when the beans have been cooking for about 45 or 50 minutes, chop the chard and put it into the saucepan (step 3 - pic. D).
      If the cabbage and chard dry out too quickly you can start adding some of the beans water.
      Crush the black pepper corns into the mortar and set aside.
      When one hour has passed, peel the potatoes, dice them and add them to the mixture. Add the salt and the pepper according to taste, but don’t be shy, since also the rest of the ingredients will need to get fairy savoury (step 3 - pic. E).

  • 4.
    Adding the tomato passata and the cannellini beans

    • The saucepan with the veggetables
    • Tomato Passata - 500ml
    • The cannellini beans with their rinds and liquor (or the canned beans)
    • One ladle
    • One hand blander or a food mill
    • One big wooden spoon or silicone spatula

      Add the tomato passata and stir (step 4 - pic. A).
      With a ladle, add half of the cannellini beans and the boiled rinds or cured meats to the main saucepan (step 4 - pic. B).
      Process the rest of the beans with a hand blander, or a food mill, directly into their liquor. Do just the same if you are using canned beans. Add the mixture into the large saucepan, stir evenly (step 4 - pic. C -D).
      Set the power on a low heat and let the soup cook for one more hour.
      Check the seasoning.

  • 5.
    Serving the Ribollita soup

    • Bread - to taste
    • Extra virgin olive oil - to taste
    • One large serving bowl with lid

      Slice the bread (about one large slice for each diner - half a cm thick). Make alternate layers of bread and soup and drizzle some extra virgin olive oil on each of them. Cover the bowl with its lid and let it rest for 20 minutes before serving: Artusi says the soup is good eaten warm, but cold is better.

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